Last week, rumors surfaced regarding a potential hack of Snapchat photos. On October 14, Snapchat announced that their servers had not been compromised and instead an unauthorized third-party app, SnapSaved.com, had been hacked.
The cyber attack is being dubbed “The Snappening.”
Snapchat is a social media smartphone app that allows users to send self-destructing photos and videos. SnapSaved is a web-based client that allowed users to secretly save these images without the sender’s knowledge.
In a public statement, SnapSaved explained that 500 MB of images were released. The exact number of stolen images this translates to is still being debated, with estimates ranging from 90,000 to 200,000 images.
Upon the attack, the hackers redistributed the stolen images on 4Chan and Reddit, two popular online chat forums. Moderators have been working feverishly to delete any suspicious links for fear of child pornography, since about 50% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13 and 17 and the high prevalence of sexting among teens.
While child pornography is a major concern, much skepticism remains regarding the validity of the hack. Caitlin Dewey from the The Washington Post explains how the lack of links has fueled her hesitation as, “every supposed link to the trove actually leads to spam, deleted files or poorly cloaked malware.”
Snapchat has always tried to distant themselves from third-party apps like SnapSaved. They do not provide their API (application programming interface) to developers have explained the dangers of third-party apps in their recent blog post:
“When you give your login credentials to a third-party application, you’re allowing a developer, and possibly a criminal, to access your account information and send information on your behalf.”
While Snapchat works hard to vocalize this message, it is important to remember that putting information online comes with potential security risks. In this instance, even if you didn’t use SnapSaved, a friend may have — which would have exposed your private images in the hack. Always use your social media smarts and don’t share anything you wouldn’t be ok with the whole world seeing.
For parents, it is important to share this information with your children and be involved with their online lives. Connect with your children on social media and monitor what they share and with whom they share it.
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